The customer is not always right, but now more than ever the customer is in control. The proliferation of information, connectivity, and mobility has empowered consumers and shifted expectations. Today’s customer expects a seamless, timely, and personalized experience throughout all brand interactions. Any shortfall thereof and relationships soon fall by the wayside.
Consumers need not be the only beneficiaries of a digital world, however. The digitization of media channels and the advancement of predictive analytics afford businesses an unprecedented ability to understand their customers and build relationships through a data-driven approach. Brands capable of doing both possess a notable competitive advantage. Personalization ranks among the top attributes customers value most, but roughly 80% of customers still feel that retailers do not understand them as individuals.
Despite the apparent opportunity, a surprising number of sales and marketing leaders are not enacting an infrastructure for data-driven decision making. A recent study put out by the Economist Intelligence Unit found only about a third are doing so even though two out of three admit the necessity of such. This stasis stems more from a discontinuity between marketing, IT and data science than any general reluctance. Marketers lack the technical expertise; IT personnel lack the analytical toolset; data scientists lack the context.
Now thousands of marketing technologies try to fill this void and new ones inundate the space at staggering rates (see LUMAscape). What’s more, most are confined to a single link in the customer supply chain: data warehousing as separate from modeling and attribution; website optimization distinct from content creation; web analytics disjoint from marketing automation. The list goes on. Piecing the links together seems near impossible.
The marketers’ technology stack is overly fragmented. And this problem extends beyond just an overwhelming number of products. Models are only as reliable as what goes into them. With so many disparate data sources, misinformation and disconnections are inevitable. Small wonder there exists an alarming divide in how brands perceive their relationship with a customer and how that customer actually feels.
To make customer equity more a reality than a buzzword, brands need a data-driven strategy built on the marriage of technology, analytics, media, and marketing. Getting there requires a marketing driven vision rooted in: a consistent measurement strategy, centralized collating of data, predictive analyses, and delivery on insights through real-time media.
With the right infrastructure in place, businesses can can scale the differentiated experience their customers want and regain control through a relationship that is proactive rather than reactive. The right message to the right person at the right time is right now if only brands choose so.